Throughout this month, we’ve been running a new essay series based on “Why Be Jewish?”—a new book by the late Edgar M. Bronfman, which was was released this year. The book centers around his own personal journey and how he himself comes to answer this provocative, and very necessary, question.
In the series, many of our writers explored the question for themselves–mentioning things like family, a sense of community, and a love of tradition as reasons for why they identify as Jewish.
So, we decided to open the question up to our readers, and this is what you said:
“Be Jewish, because it is a lens, or the lens, through which you view the world. Be Jewish, because it means to live with purpose and seek meaning. Be Jewish, because you can’t otherwise be the real you.”
“I’m Jewish because my parents are Jewish. I’m Jewish because my grandparents were Jewish. I’m Jewish, therefore, I married a Jew and we have Jewish children. I’m proud to be a Jew, and I love being Jewish. I am a link in a beautiful chain connecting many generations of Jews.”
“In the 5th grade, we did a family tree project, and for the first time, my mother told me we were Jewish. In that moment, I went from a military kid with no real place to call home, to a person with deep roots and a rich history. I am Jewish, because this is who I am, and these are my people.”
“I am Jewish, not just because my parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and everyone before them. I am Jewish because I love the cultural traditions. I am Jewish, because our history makes me humble and proud every day.”
“Judaism offers customs and mitzvot that have been passed down from generation to generation, like the upsherin, like the bar/bat mitzvah, like the chuppah at the wedding. These communal activities celebrate the transitions and family units, and ground us with roots so we can have the wings to question and challenge Judaism–and make it relevant today. It’s lasted this long, because the rituals have meaning and the family is center.”
“Because of my grandparents and their families. Because they tried to kill us, we survived, so we eat, and remember. Because it encourages me to question and find my own way.”
Tell us why you identify as Jewish in the comments below. Read more responses to “Why Be Jewish” here.